In this weeks episode of Frugal Radio's SDR Guide videos Rob shows how a FM bandstop filter can help in certain situations. A FM bandstop is designed to reduce the power level of FM broadcast stations that are received by your antenna. FM broadcast stations are often extremely strong, and this can cause an SDR to overload, resulting in poor reception on other frequencies.
In the video he demonstrates how he is unable to receive air traffic control signals due to FM broadcast overload. After inserting an FM bandstop filter the air traffic signals become receivable. We note that we sell a low cost FM bandstop filter in our store.
2020 SDR Guide EP8 : Overcoming FM Broadcast Interference with a Nooelec flamingo band stop filter
In a second video Rob demonstrates the use of the recently released Simple DMR plugin which we posted about earlier.
Quickest way to monitor DMR with your SDR? Simple DMR for SDR# installed in under 5 mins!
At the beginning of 2020 Annunaki (@StupotSinders) released his third party user interface for DSDPlus. DSDPlus is a digital speech decoder capable of decoding protocols such as P25 P1, DMR, NXDN and more with an SDR such as the RTL-SDR. As it is a command line tool, it can be a little daunting for some users, which is where the GUI comes in handy.
Recently Annunaki has released an SDR# plugin version of DSDPlusUI. This makes it so you can visualize the digital voice signals at the same time as controlling and decoding with DSDPlus. The plugin is available on the DSDPlusUI website at dsdplusui.com. To use it you will need to be using SDR# 1777 or later.
Vasili, author of several SDR# plugins has recently released a new APCO P25 plugin for SDR#. The plugin is easy to use, simply tune to a P25 voice signal, and it will automatically decode it into voice audio assuming that the signal is not encrypted. If the P25 signal is encrypted, you will hear garbled unintelligible voice. The plugin does not support trunking or any advanced talk group filtering features that you might find with DSD+, Unitrunker, SDR Trunk etc.
To install the plugin, simply download the zip file from rtl-sdr.ru and extra the .dll's into the SDR# folder. Then copy the text in magicline.txt file into the plugins.xml file inside the SDR# folder. The plugin should work with any SDR supported by SDR#, including the RTL-SDR.
In her last video Sarah from the SignalsEverywhere YouTube channel showed us how to set up SDRTrunk for reception of digital P25 Police and other services with two RTL-SDR dongles. On this weeks episode Sarah shows us how to set up Broadcastify with SDRTrunk. Broadcastify is a an online service that allows you to stream audio from your SDR or scanner radio to their website for anyone to listen to. We note that sharing audio or some talkgroups may not be legal in all countries so please do your research first.
In the video Sarah shows the full setup process involving setting up a Broadcastify account, creating an alias list, adding talkgroups to share and finally setting up the Icecast server for streaming to the Broadcastify servers.
Over on YouTube Sarah from SignalsEverywhere has uploaded a new tutorial video showing how to use two RTL-SDR dongles with the free SDRTrunk software to create a P25 Police scanner.
In the video she first shows how to install SDRTrunk in Windows and Linux, then how to install the JMBE codec required for decoding audio. She goes on to show how to import trunked system network data from a (paid) RadioReference subscription, how to blacklist unwanted talkgroups, and how to optimize operation with two RTL-SDR tuners. Finally she also shows how to set up the system manually if you don't have a RadioReference subscription.
SDRTrunk The FREE P25 Police Scanner! Windows and Linux Tutorial
Thank you to Carl Makin (VK1KCM) for submitting a video that he produced for his local ham radio club in Australia. In the video Carl first gives an overview on radio trunking systems and explains why they are used to improve spectrum efficiency.
He goes on to focus solely on P25 digital voice trunking networks. Carl is based in NSW, Australia so he talks a bit about what P25 services are available in his area and which ones are unencrypted. Finally he demonstrates the SDR Trunk software decoding one of his local P25 networks with two RTL-SDR dongles, and explains what information we can see in the software.
Over on Twitter Annunaki (@StupotSinders) has been teasing some screenshots of a GUI for DSD+ that he's been developing over the past few weeks. And now he has released the software which is called "DSDPlusUI". DSD+ is mostly command line based, so a GUI could be useful for newbies. The software can be downloaded from the DSDPlusUI groups.io page.
DSD+ (aka Digital Speech Decoder) is a free closed source program that is compatible with RTL-SDR and various other SDRs which is used to decoder digital speech protocols such as P25 P1, DMR, NXDN and more. DSD+ Fastlane is a paid upgrade which allows subscribers to receive the latest updates to the software early.
Back in April 2019 we posted about Matt Mills' Radiocapture.com website which is a web service that you can feed that automatically captures analogue and digital trunked radio conversations with an RTL-SDR, and allows public users to play back conversations via the web interface. The Radiocapture page which shows what the software is capable of is also active at radiocapture.com/radio.
Back in April Matt was fundraising via Patreon and hoping to make development of Radiocapture his day job, but unfortunately he's had to call it quits for now. Since he no longer has time to work on it, Matt has open sourced the RF side of the software. The software description reads:
[Radiocapture-rf] is capable of using multiple networked computers and multiple SDR radios to demodulate the control channel of P25, EDACS, and Motorola trunking systems, as well as some limited support (alpha quality) for scanning for systems, LTR trunking, and "police scanner" style audio capture.
It is designed to effectively scale to an infinite capacity of trunked systems, captured transmission volume, and dongle bandwidth (more dongles = more available bandwidth, more cpus = more channels and more systems). (There is one remaining feature to be implemented to really make this work well, dongle redis autodiscovery (frontend_connect should autodiscover and use available dongles) and splitting the rc_frontend/receiver.py into one process per dongle.
The frontend initializes the SDRs in whatever configured frequency range, and presents a server interface where clients can connect and request a specific channel be created and forward to them. The frontend will then attach a channel, and output to a UDP sink (might be something better now, I forget). On the backend side, a control_demodulator is listening to that sink and doing the actual RF demodulation, which is passed into redis for distribution to other services. The backend is effectively a bunch of microservices that work together to track & record all ongoing transmissions and do some amount of deduplication. This entire setup is designed such that it can be scaled across as many servers/computers as necessary (although there are a few caveats/things I never got around to implementing in how it actually works). Recorded transmissions are decorated with a metadata scheme in their mp3 tags that is designed to be able to be loaded into the Radiocapture.com database. Finally completed mp3s are dropped into an activemq queue for publishing.
Matt notes that the software in it's current state isn't considered as "ready to distribute" as you may need some decent experience with Linux and Python to get it up and running.